Episode Review of Babylon 5 Season 2: "There All the Honor Lies"

Warning: all of my reviews contain spoilers.

If you have any comments on this review, please email me at the address at the bottom.

Episode Information

Title: "There All the Honor Lies"
Writer: Peter David
Director: Mike Vejar
Rating (out of 4 stars): ** 1/2
Reviewed on: May 31, 2009

Synopsis from The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5


Sheridan is framed for the murder of a Minbari.

While walking through a corridor, Sheridan's link is nabbed by a stranger. Sheridan runs after the thief, but encounters a Minbari who attacks him without provocation. The Minbari throws Sheridan to the floor, where he finds a PPG gun conveniently within reach. Sheridan points the gun at the Minbari and warns him to stop the attack, but the Minbari ignores him. Sheridan shoots and kills the Minbari. As Sheridan looks at his dead attacker, somewhat stunned, he notices a Minbari passer-by, who takes in the scene and runs off.

Sheridan reports the incident to Garibaldi and Delenn. He orders Garibaldi to immediately begin an investigation to confirm his recounting of the events and to determine why the Minbari attacked him. Delenn is very upset and orders Lennier to conduct an independent investigation on behalf of the Minbari government.

Garibaldi and Lennier immediately begin getting in each other's way while investigating, especially when tracking down the Minbari witness Sheridan saw at the end of the incident. Franklin's autopsy of the dead Minbari doesn't find anything to support Sheridan's story, but nothing to refute it, either. Garibaldi finds it very suspicious that Sheridan just happened to find a gun during the attack, and thinks that Sheridan was set up.

Lennier has tracked down the Minbari witness, who is named Ashan and is from the same clan as Lennier. When Delenn questions Ashan, he calls her a freak, causing her to leave. After that, Ashan agrees to answer questions from Lennier.

Garibaldi has also tracked down the identity of Ashan, and brings him in for Sheridan to question, in the presence of Delenn and Lennier. Ashan is openly hostile toward Sheridan "Starkiller". Ashan claims to have seen Sheridan kill the other Minbari, despite the Minbari speaking words of submission in the Minbari language. Sheridan is adamant that the Minbari was still attacking and not surrendering when he fired.

During the discussion, Sheridan's Earth Force lawyer, Guinevere Corey, arrives and dismisses all the others. Corey says that Earth Force is indicting him for the murder of the Minbari, figuring that a trial is the best way to proceed and clear Earth Force's name. Sheridan is completely taken aback by Earth Force's throwing him to the wolves, even more so when Corey says that even if a trial proves Sheridan innocent, the incident will cost him command of B5.

Meanwhile, Delenn has expressed her doubt in Ashan's recounting of events, saying that she has studied Sheridan extensively, and that cold-blooded murder is not in his character. She discovers that the dead Minbari and Ashan are from the same clan, which raises the possibility of clan honor as a motivation. She orders Lennier to follow Ashan. Lennier tracks Ashan to some dubious dealings and finally confronts him, asking Ashan what he honors most, the truth or their clan.

Through an incidental comment by Londo, Sheridan discovers that Minbari can lie without dishonor if they do so in order to save another person's honor or the honor of their clan. (Londo's knowledge is based on Lennier taking the blame for their bar fight last season in "The Quality of Mercy".) Sheridan realizes that clan honor is probably the key to the whole situation. He also learns that the Minbari government has ordered Ashan to return to their homeworld, which will prevent any trial from being held, but Sheridan's name will not be cleared.

He confronts Delenn about this, saying that his credibility on the station will be destroyed, which may have been the goal of the set-up. Sheridan says he knows now how it feels to be completely alone, isolated from his people and his government. This is such a mirror to Delenn's situation that she cannot face him, and it's painful for us to watch. Now we know how much Ashan's "freak" epithet hurt her earlier. She explains to Sheridan that a Minbari might lie to save another's honor because there is no greater honor than to serve - and this is apparently one type of service. She says, "...they are ready to sacrifice everything. Their individuality, their blood, their life." What she describes may apply to Ashan's devotion to his clan, but it certainly applies to her choice to be transformed into a human-Minbari hybrid. While she may believe she made the right choice, her adjustment to her new life is still very painful to her.

She leads Sheridan away, and next we see Lennier addressing Ashan before he leaves for the Minbari homeworld. Lennier tells Ashan that once he leaves, he (Lennier) will go to Sheridan and take the blame for the set-up that led to the Minbari's death and Sheridan's framing. Ashan is aghast that Lennier would dishonor their clan in such a way, but Lennier claims that he will actually gain honor for himself, since he is covering for Ashan. OK, so in the "honor game", does gaining honor really count if no one else knows about it? Or does everyone keep their own personal "tally" and rationalization for what they've done? This is why such a literal honor system is really pretty silly.

Ashan finally spills the beans, saying that it was the clan leaders to approved the plan, since they were upset about Sheridan being put in command of B5. Once he gets all the details out, Sheridan, Delenn, Garibaldi, and Corey reveal that they were listening in. Sheridan now has all the information he needs to prove his innocence, but revealing the whole story would embarrass the Minbari. Against Corey's advice, Sheridan agrees to keep the truth a secret as long as Ashan will make a statement about what he actually witnessed during the attack. The ultimate motivation of Sheridan's attacker will be left a mystery.

Several subplots also threaded through the episode. In one, Kosh has begun teaching Sheridan, as agreed in the previous episode "Hunter, Prey". The "lessons" seem to be very enigmatic. In this case, Kosh takes Sheridan to an area of downbelow, where Sheridan crawls through an undeveloped area and gives a token to a monk. Suddenly, many unseen monks surrounding them begin a beautiful chant. As Sheridan describes it to Ivanova later, "beauty...in the dark." What does this have to do with preparing Sheridan to fight legends? Who knows. However, any chance Sheridan has to learn more about Kosh seems to be a good thing.

In another subplot, Earth Force has decided to raise extra money by selling B5 merchandise, opening a store on the station. This is good for some laughs, but the store has to be shut down when Londo discovers that dolls of him do not have any sexual organs (which we learned something about last season in "The Quality of Mercy"). While I can see B5 merchandise being reasonably popular, I can't really see it being a huge moneymaker for Earth Force.

In the last subplot, Vir gets a recall order from the Centauri government. He originally got the job as Londo's assistant because no one else wanted it, but now that Londo is becoming more important, the government wants someone more competent in the job. Vir is upset at this insult to his abilities, but he seems to be more upset that he can't decide whether he wants to protest the order and stay, or be happy about the order and go. He gets drunk before Londo finds out about the order, and then has some very nice dialog describing how Londo's secrets and plans scare him, but he doesn't really have any better options at home. By the end of the episode, Londo convinces Vir to stay and keep his job.

This episode has never been one of my favorites, although I can't really find anything big wrong with it. I think my biggest problem with it is that I don't like the way that Sheridan is thrown to the wolves by Earth Force. The appearance of Corey as his lawyer also seems like it's going to be a big deal, but then turns out to not be much of anything. I also do not like the scene with Corey's arrival: she walks into Sheridan's own office and immediately takes charge. This is hugely arrogant (which is in character) but also very unwise for Earth Force's appearance - she has to realize how she's undercutting Sheridan's authority in front of others. It's very interesting how Delenn and the others immediately sense her authoritative presence and obey her without question; Sheridan doesn't yet have that same presence to just take charge of a room by arriving (although he will by the end of the series!). At any rate, Corey's presence doesn't really go anywhere beyond setting up a higher-stakes jeopardy situation for Sheridan. (It's too bad, because I enjoy the actress Caitlin Brown, who played Na'Toth in season 1.)

I find the plot to frame Sheridan also somewhat dubious. I can understand some of the Minbari wanting to remove Sheridan from command of B5. But why do it in such an indirect manner? One might think they were trying to not only remove him, but also shame or dishonor him. However, Ashan himself says that they don't consider Sheridan to have any honor because of how he attacked the Minbari in the Earth-Minbari War; thus, it follows that he wouldn't be shamed. So why don't they just kill Sheridan? Surely it would be a less convoluted plan, especially since they have a Minbari willing to be a martyr. The original attacker could have just killed Sheridan and then killed himself... perhaps the attacker's clan would then be dishonored? At any rate, the whole situation seems too complicated to be realistic.

Delenn's behavior in this episode is very interesting. She initially puts a very hard face toward Sheridan and Garibaldi about investigating the incident, but we see that it's just a face, since she doesn't believe Sheridan did it. Later, she is still pretty thin-skinned about what other Minbari think about her transformation. Why doesn't the Minbari government put out some official statement about the purpose of her transformation? Perhaps that wouldn't help the prejudice of Minbari like Ashan. Even later in the episode, we see her identifying very strongly with Sheridan, a person she has already stated to have studied extensively. For what purpose has Delenn been studying Sheridan? Is that purpose something that includes her entire people (and the upcoming "darkness") or her alone?

Return to my Babylon 5 reviews page.